Gaming

Detroit: Become Human review: Create-your-own-adventures are back

This is your story

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Throughout video game history, the element of choice has never factored prominently towards a game’s progress. Even with an abundance of gameplay elements, video games always corral you to its own desired ending.

With Detroit: Become Human, developer Quantic Dream completely leaves that option to you. Besides a unique cinematic experience, Detroit brings a complete create-your-own-adventure set inside a near-future sci-fi world.

Welcome to Detroit

Like its predecessors Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human mixes its plot seamlessly with its gameplay. Because both are so intertwined, it becomes impossible to talk about one without the other.

Detroit brings us to its eponymous city in 2038. Despite being set two decades into the future, the Motor City doesn’t differ greatly from how it is now. Cars, houses, and clothing styles strangely look the same. However, for all its similarities, the Detroit (and everywhere else) of the future differs in one crucial aspect: artificially intelligent androids exist.

As predicted, humanity has invented compliant and intelligent robots that can do our bidding as servants, companions, and even occasional lovers. Unfortunately, things aren’t as smooth as they seem. Everywhere, androids have started to rebel against their masters. Humanity would call them “deviants.”

In Detroit, you control three androids portrayed through their own respective points of view. Connor is a prototype police android tasked with investigating why androids are turning deviant. Kara is a housewife managing an abusive father’s house and his daughter. Markus is a companion robot caring for an aging artist.

Three-in-one

With three characters, Quantic Dream created three distinct perspectives to separate each story from the other. Besides three collaborative ones, each chapter takes on a different tone and theme.

From gameplay elements to the soundtrack, each perspective is its own story. Even if you isolate them as separate stories, they can still exist individually as an adequately drawn game.

For the most part, every character is isolated in its own world. Detroit successfully created different moods for each story. Connor’s story and gameplay takes on a CSI vibe. Kara’s story has a more familial vibe. Finally, Markus’ story has a more revolutionary tone.

Sigh-filled sci-fi

A well-written science fiction story is always an excellent medium to depict a cautionary tale of the future a la Black Mirror. Like that show, Detroit starts off with an optimistic, well-rounded vision of the almost-near future. In that vision, androids have elevated humanity into new technological levels.

Unfortunately, this breath of fresh air eventually degrades to an on-the-nose civil rights story. From the onset, Detroit already hints that android rights lack the same modicum of respect that human rights do.

While civil rights stories shine in the spotlight today, Detroit hammers it down a little too much. Case in point, the story’s android rights movement uses too much historic taglines like “we have a dream” and “we think therefore we are.” Despite its create-your-own nature, Detroit really wants you to care about its androids.

For what it’s worth, its background worldbuilding excels. Through in-game magazines and TV screens, the game explores other facets of 2038’s world — politics, sports, interpersonal relationships, and transportation.

Do choices really matter?

Thankfully, yes. As with Quantic Dream’s other games, Detroit features a vast river of branching paths. Every decision — whether major or trivial — affects future chapters. Even missing a single slip of paper in one scene blocks you from significant decisions in future scenes.

Despite the allure of unlocking every option possible, the game naturally blocks you from achieving — or at least, unlocking — every option. Some scenes even lock users into time limits, both explicitly shown and hidden.

Further, developers have also highlighted the game’s permadeath options. A persistent worry, however, is if Detroit will have copouts when it deals with death. Thankfully, death is a real option in the game. In my first playthrough, a key character didn’t make it to the end credits. While there are some copout moments, permadeaths for both side and main characters remain a possibility throughout.

Fortunately, Detroit shows you which branches and options you’ve unlocked during your playthrough. The developers adamantly encourage gamers to finish a playthrough first before backtracking into new branches. However, the temptation to replay a chapter is always there.

Press X to pay respects

Unlike most games, Detroit does not have a standard verb set. Besides the traditional movement stick and some interfaces, there are no dedicated run, use, and shoot buttons. Random prompts often appear to perform certain actions.

Usually, this isn’t a problem. In a laidback investigation portion, prompts are easy enough to decipher. However, as is the norm with Quantic Dream, the game also includes nerve-wracking quick-time events (QTEs) to get through action and chase scenes. While this is the best use of the janky controls, it’s not the best way to tell a story. The harried pressure to press the right button in time often takes away from the game’s cinematic element.

Realistic dolls in an empty dollhouse

The video game industry has come a long way from the polygonal character designs of yesteryear. Detroit pushes that boundary even further with its motion-captured performances. From cinematic cutscenes to trivial fidgets, Quantic Dream created extraordinarily realistic characters. The three main characters even share an uncanny likeness with the actual actors who play them.

Unfortunately, Detroit’s background visuals are less desirable. With interactable elements scattered throughout a scene, the game often plays out like an old-school point-and-click adventure game. However, they lack the random charm of those lovable games. Besides the actual objectives, Detroit’s backgrounds feel blank and empty. Even if they’re filled with details and background actors, neither Connor, Kara, nor Markus can interact with them other than just walking past. For a game that puts the premium on character design, Detroit falls short on delivering a thriving physical world.

Regardless, with its choice-driven narrative and superb character design, Detroit: Become Human marks a turning point for video games. It opens the industry as a medium for cinematic but interactive storytelling.

Despite its flaws, Detroit: Become Human is still a loving homage to the choose-your-own-adventures and point-and-click games of before.

SEE ALSO: Step into androids’ shoes in Detroit: Become Human

Gaming

PUBG Mobile has a host of surprise gifts this Diwali

Burst in-game crackers!

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Diwali is a very auspicious festival in the Hindu calendar and is comparable to Christmas in India. With the onset of the festive season, everyone is on a shopping spree. Companies are gearing up to send out gifts and streets will be lit up with diyas and lanterns.

The country is also one of the largest markets for PUBG Mobile, and the brand intends to leverage the festive season this year. The game has announced a plethora of in-game offerings as well as physical gifts.

Starting October 19, ‘Diwali Dhamaka Event’ will go live in the game and players need to complete daily missions to collect ‘Diwali Sparklers,’ which can be used to ‘Burst Crackers.’ Bursting these crackers will get you ‘Gift Tokens’ that can be redeemed for exclusive in-game items.

For reference, bursting crackers has been a tradition during Diwali. However, everyone is urged to refrain from bursting actual crackers because it leads to massive air pollution. A virtual celebration is best for everyone.

Progressing up the ladder, there will be three levels and each will offer you up to 25 tokens. Once all the Gift Tokens are collected, players will get a Diwali special in-game item for free. Additionally, few lucky winners will also stand a chance to win physical rewards like TVS Apache Bike, OPPO Phones, gold coins, and more.

In-game offering currently includes a Kurta Pajama Set (traditional clothes worn during Diwali), Cricket Costume, Future Policewoman set, Lobster Set, AWM/M416 gun skins, Crate Coupons, and more. The festivities will be available in-game till November 4.

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Blizzard is banning pro-HK Twitch viewers

Don’t say “Free Hong Kong”

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Image source: Twitch

The war against Chinese favoritism continues. Following a massive controversy a few weeks ago, Blizzard shows that it has not learned its lesson at all. The video game publisher is reportedly banning pro-Hong Kong viewers from its Twitch channel.

Blizzard’s games are particularly popular on the streaming platform. Thousands of streamers play World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Hearthstone on Twitch daily. Naturally, Blizzard has capitalized on this trend. Blizzard’s official Twitch accounts broadcast sanctioned tournaments regularly.

This year, Hearthstone’s official account (PlayHearthstone) broadcasted the Master Tour, an international Hearthstone tournament. The most recent European leg is currently ongoing on the platform. That said, the stream’s chatroom was (and is) a huge minefield. Thousands of viewers typed in pro-Hong Kong messages in chat. The outpouring comes from both Hong Kong supporters and dissenters against Blizzard’s blatant pro-China stance.

However, Blizzard already has Twitch on lockdown. As reported by Dot Esports, anyone who typed “Free Hong Kong” automatically received a 24-hour ban from the chatroom. (Though they can still watch, banned users cannot participate in the chatroom for the allotted time.) Moderators also instantly deleted the “offensive” messages.

Image source: Twitch

At the very least, Blizzard isn’t using an automated program to control the chat’s speech. Days after a live match, PlayHearthstone rebroadcasted the same match on the channel. Apparently, a rerun did not warrant enough moderation from Blizzard. During the rerun, thousands of pro-Hong Kong messages flashed in the chatroom without deletion or banning. Blizzard is still taking things manually.

Regardless, the company’s recent censorship is another nail in Blizzard’s made-in-China coffin. Previously, Blizzard penalized the winner of a Hearthstone tournament for including pro-Hong Kong protests in his victory speech. After an ambiguous apology note, the company eased on the punishment and reiterated that China was not involved in the decision.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard is taking their other titles to your mobile

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Alienware m15 arrives in the Philippines

Leaner and stronger

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Here’s an alien that’s more than welcome in this part of the world. Dell is bringing a new breed of Alienware to the Philippines — the Alienware m15.

This Alienware is leaner, more advanced and more powerful than its predecessor. Weighing under 4.7lbs, this is the brand’s slimmest and latest gaming rig. This is for gamers who prioritize mobility without compromise to performance.

You’ll get the best of Intel processors and NVIDA GeForce GPUs along with either a 144Hz or 240Hz refresh panel.

It also has the latest Alienware Cyro-Tech 3.0 that brings optimized thermal module design to improve cooling performance, increasing airflow by 20% over the previous generation of the m15.

Additional design features include an all-magnesium chassis, smooth-edge, narrow-bezel design, re-engineered keyboard, precision-point glass touchpad, SSD-only storage, and per key RGB LED AlienFX lighting.

There’s also a hyper-efficient voltage regulation or VRM feature. The VRM allows the system to hold GPU and CPU performance high for a longer sustained time than typical gaming notebooks.

The Alienware m15 will also come with the Alienware Command Center. It’s the central hub that allows gamers to customize all aspects of their experience including system and peripheral lighting, power management, thermal control, audio, and content organization.

This lean, mean gaming machine starts at PhP 149,990, and will be available on the week of October 2019.

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